After living in Leamington Spa for almost a year and exploring all the independent restaurants and cafes that the town has to offer, I thought that its vegan options couldn’t get any better. Then Cellar Club opened.
When its menu popped up on my Facebook feed I expected it to belong to some pricey hipster restaurant in Shoreditch, not a bar in Leamington whose prices rival the Dirty Duck’s.
Located below ground at the very top of the Parade, walking down the Cellar Club’s stone steps is like falling down a rabbit hole into a wonderland of vegan mozzarella sticks, tasty tacos, and beer that is quite literally on tap.
A wonderland of vegan mozzarella sticks, tasty tacos, and beer that is quite literally on tap
Since it opened its doors in early May, I’ve visited numerous times, and I can honestly say that they have served the best vegan meals I’ve ever eaten. The bar is home to two kitchen residencies, Lily Loves Tacos and Vegan Junk. Lily Loves Tacos creates exotic tacos for meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans alike, but it’s the Vegan Junk menu that gives Cellar Club a special place my heart, and stomach.
Vegan Junk is a Nottingham-based company which supplies a plethora of vegan junk food to local restaurants and food retailers. From its Vegan Junk Mac burger to its doner kebab to its BBQ pulled pork hot dog, the main Vegan Junk menu would make the most ardent carnivores salivate, and any vegan swoon.
The main Vegan Junk menu would make the most ardent carnivores salivate
But Cellar Club doesn’t just have novelty-factor on its side. Dishes like the vegan loaded chilli dog are not only undeniably fascinating, but genuinely delicious and, as they’re made of tofu instead of the usual processed meat, they’re a hell of a lot healthier too. Thin and crunchy and perfectly cooked, the fries are also incredible; they taste better than Vialli’s chips at 2am on a Friday night (I didn’t think it would be possible either but making seemingly-impossible food a reality seems to be Cellar Club’s forte).
Furthermore, it’s the perfect place for any weekend indulgence. On Saturday mornings it offers a breakfast menu which includes a bacon and egg muffin, a full English, as well as the obligatory avocado and egg on toasted sourdough bread. They also serve a vegan roast on Sundays, the main course of which is the minted ‘lambless’ wild mushroom and spinach wellington with all the trimmings, including vegan cauliflower cheese.
Paul McCartney famously once stated that, “if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian,” and I’m pretty sure that if Cellar Club had glass walls everyone would be vegan.
If Cellar Club had glass walls everyone would be vegan
However, it’s not only the mind-blowing menu that makes Cellar Club stand out. The staff are super-friendly and as well as its cool subterranean vibe, it features a self-service beer wall, and quirky artwork based on journalist Mary Schmich’s essay “Wear Sunscreen”, made famous by Baz Luhrmann’s spoken-word song “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)”. It’s no doubt the best thing to happen to Warwick students’ Instagram pages since Procaffeinate.
So maybe it’s time to accept certain inalienable truths; prices will rise, politicians will philander, and Cellar Club will become everyone’s favourite haunt in Leamington Spa. Next time somebody asks you where you want to eat, I hope you won’t hesitate, because there’s a delicious chunk of vegan junk waiting for you at the top of the Parade.